GermanyRats! They fought the dogs and killed the cats, And bit the babies in the cradles. And ate the cheese out of the vats, And licked the soup from the cooks’ own ladles. Split open the kegs of salted sprats. Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats, And even spoiled the women’s chats By drowning their speaking With shrieking and squeaking In fifty different sharps and flats.

So begins one of the opening sections of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” a poem by Robert Browning about the invading vermin that wreaked havoc upon medieval Hamelin. No wonder the town (originally) agreed to pay the mysterious musician 1,000 guilders to get rid of the pests, only to renege and suffer the consequences.

The rats are back — as they have been each summer since 1956. Every Sunday at noon through Sept. 11, locals perform a free, 30-minute version of the tale in the city center. If you’re in town on a Wednesday instead, catch a free outdoor performance of the musical “RATS” at 4:30 p.m. in the city center May 25 to Sept. 21.

Find details on both, in English, at

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